Tony Gualda is preparing himself to further his racing career.
Trinity Racing Concepts is supporting Tony by helping him develop his racing talent through simulation racing. Tony races weekly with coaching from Martin McKeefery. Tony is able to drive a variety of race cars in simulation before he is eligible to drive them in real life. Tony Gualda is progressively running faster and cleaner lines in the Star Mazda series at Laguna Seca Raceway.
RACING: A slick performance
Jan 19, 2010
By Andrew Matheson
Tony Gualda may have pulled a fast one on the competition – literally.
Competing in the two-day West Coast Shootout at the Tulare County Fairgrounds in October, the 10-year-old go-kart racer and his father, who also goes by Tony, sat and watched the opposition prior to the main event.
They were scouting, in other words. But without an engine that could replicate the horsepower of their competition – Gualda’s Briggs and Stratton 200 CC engine would be giving up 50 CC to three other karts in the race – the Gualda’s had to think somewhat outside the box.
“We were off watching other cars and watching the moisture content of the track, which had increased during the heat events,” Gualda’s father said. “We noticed the RPMs were decreasing.”
That was good news for Gualda. Fewer RPMs meant slower karts, which would level the playing field some, especially against those faster, 250 CC engines. But a slightly wetter track would also slow Gualda’s winged go-kart as well, which certainly didn’t help.
“There were some cars with big-hitting motors, so big that they couldn’t keep the kart to the ground,” Gualda’s father said. “They were spinning.”
Noticing perhaps the one thing that could provide Gualda a chance, the father-son duo placed slick, non-grooved racing tires on their go-kart – tires often reserved for tacky or sticky surfaces and not the slightly wetter content the track was suddenly experiencing.
“Nobody else went with the slick tires.” Gualda’s father said.
Nobody except Gualda.
A fourth-grader at Sunnyslope Elementary School in Hollister, Gualda defeated five other opponents at the West Coast Shootout main event, including three other karts with larger engines.
“It was a big difference,” Gualda said of the tire change. “I was actually surprised. But I had confidence in myself that I could beat them, and I did.”
Meanwhile, the top-spot Shootout finish only complemented Gualda’s first-place standing in the Tulare County Kart Club series, where the Hollister driver defeated Nicholas Hickman and Allen Neal in the Open Winged 4-Cyle class through a nine-race series that stretched from April to November.
It was the first time Gualda had earned a first-place overall finish in the kart series. He competed eight times and earned six first-place finishes, as well as two runner-up standings during the eight-month competition.
Gualda’s consistent performance, coupled with his skill and shrewd decision making from the West Coast Shootout, has the 10-year-old racer thinking forward.
“When you’re getting a bigger car, it shows your sponsors that you had a great career in the cars that you’ve raced before,” said Gualda, who has every intention of upping to a 250 CC engine as soon as he celebrates his 11th birthday.
Currently staying sharp with offseason racing at the San Jose Speedway and driving in a development program through Trinity Racing – which offers driver simulations that has the Hollister speed racer practicing at Laguna Seca and Le Mans – Gualda won’t turn 11 until Nov. 5.
“It’s just practice,” he said. “Just a variety of different cars on a variety of tracks from across the world.
“And we’ll be racing up in Chico in the spring, where there’s far more competition and more cars.”
Andrew Matheson is a sports writer for South Valley Newspapers. He can be reached at 831-637-5566 ext. 334 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.